I learned about Create and Cultivate about two years ago while listening to a podcast during my morning commute, a time when I was sponging up all the information I could about digital strategy and building a self-funded business.
It was a Jenna Kutcher podcast with guest Jaclyn Johnson, founder of Create and Cultivate. C&C is a conference for women to gather, attend workshops, and listen and learn from a mix of inspirational speakers, ranging from female content creators, small business owners, CEO's, celebs, and VC's. Jaclyn started as a low paid magazine editor with loads of student debt and forged her way to success by turning a small side-hustle into a powerful platform and conference dedicated to creatives and small business owners. She's been named Forbes 30 under 30 for marketing and advertising and one of the most inspirational entrepreneurs in my mind.
C&C peaked my interest for a few reasons - the carefully curated speaker list, the thematic messages in each panel and workshop that build upon each other, to the beautiful and instagram worthy set designs that really make it feel like something special. In 2017, I wrote a three-year letter to myself and C&C was on that list of big things I wanted to check off. Two years later, I found myself in New York City with my amazing sister-in-law attending C&C's first Small Business Summit in the heart of a Manhattan. These are my take-aways:
Understand your options when looking to fund your business - whether it's the self-funded route, taking out a small business loan, crowdfunding campaigns, or approaching investors, there's lots of options
It's sexy to raise money, but it doesn't mean you have a profitable business yet. The second you raise money the clock starts ticking. Focus on mastering your industry, service or product to show you have a profitable business and then negotiate investment opportunities on your own terms
There's lots of free and low cost tools to build businesses. Be scrappy and put yourself in a leaner position
Know your numbers - from EBIDA and PNL to campaign statistics and conversion rates. Not only is this crucial as a business owner, but important when approaching investors
Lastly, always make more than you spend
Consumers are skeptics and their B.S. meters are high. Content communicates your values and helps you build community.
When generating content, a tactical approach is sharing an overview in the form of a story, then providing an online deep dive in the form of a blog post, for example. Focus on your messaging, your narrative, building a strong community, and how you might tell your story differently depending on the platform
Let go of "Small List Shame." Don't get down on yourself just cause you only have 500 followers. Try changing your perspective. That's 500 people showing up to listen and acknowledge what you have to say. Treat them like gold and build relationships with them instead of chasing larger lists and numbers. The more you engage with your real audience, the numbers you actually care about will come naturally ($$$)
Plan your content - When it comes to Instagram posts, stories, or photoshoots, focus on planning 50% of your content at least 15 days in advance. That way you're timely with content, but also allow yourself time to focus on additional content that's relevant and speaks to what's happening on a given day or week. You can also focus your content around different seasons. For example, MarieTv was started about 10 years ago and Marie only opens enrollment to her online B-School once or twice a year. She creates urgency to buy and allows herself to focus on certain areas of her business and services each season. Tying your products and services into other things happening in the world is another way to keep things fresh
You've probably heard the term "evergreen content." How can you save yourself time and recycle valuable content you've already put effort into producing? Or what type of net new content can you create that will be timeless and relevant?
The Ins and Outs of Your Business
Understand your business model and the products and services you provide. Do you sell education and training or physical products? Find a way to succinctly communicate what you do and how you're different. This will help stand out and clearly communicate the value you provide
Understand your ideal customer's wants, desires, and pain points - Instagram stories are a great way to conduct market research and learn more about your followers. Ask your followers q's every now and then, then store in an excel doc to build a repository of things your audience loves and cares about
Master the art of marketing and sales. Your business depends on it.
Build confidence and hard skills through practice and additional education as needed
Build a trusted and skilled team, diverse in thought. This will help you remain nimble and approach problems through a different lens
There's a power in saying no to brand collaborations. Only collaborate with brands that align with your values and meet your compensation expectations. With that said, don't be afraid to raise your expectations either. For example, if you're a fashion blogger, take a leap of confidence and ask for more compensation. If a brand isn't going to work with you, they're going to go through the effort to hire a model and photographer. Ask to be paid what you're worth. Your time and effort matter and a brand is going to pay someone regardless.
Look for ways to incorporate brands into the story you're trying to tell. You plan on telling the story anyway, so what does it hurt reaching out to collaborate?
Hotel: 2 nights at AC Marriott Times Square, 30,000 Marriott Points per night
Flight: Alaska Airlines, SEA --> JFK, ~70k Alaska Miles
Friday: Landed in the evening, Checked in at AC Marriott then walked through time square and found a cute Italian restaurant
Saturday: Oatmilk Lattes at Blue Bottle followed by the C&C conference. Ended the day with some NY pizza and Phantom of the Opera
Sunday: 9am flight home